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Under The Influence: The Right (And Wrong) Way To Approach Influencer Marketing


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Influencer marketing has fast become a major presence in ecommerce. Consider the following quick stats: 

Regardless of how you feel about the rapidly emerging trend where brands collaborate with social media influencers to use, wear, or promote their products, the above numbers speak volumes. Marketing has always succeeded when it connects with people where they are, and where are most people today? You guessed it, social media. 

On a recent episode of Own your Commerce, hosted by Bold Co-Founder Jay Myers, Cody Wittick joined us to talk influencer marketing. Wittick is the CEO and Co-Founder of influencer marketing agency Kynship and was happy to share some great advice on the right way to use influencer marketing as an acquisition channel for ecommerce.

If you’re interested in learning about influencer marketing or are thinking about this approach for your own brand or business we highly recommend checking out the full episode. If you’re too busy and still want to learn, we’ve compiled some key takeaways and audio clips below. 

Give, don't ask

It can be daunting to give free products away to influencers without asking anything in return, but Wittick has seen incredible value come out of this sort of transaction. Giving the right product, to the right person, at the right time can lead to huge names rallying around your brand. 

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Wittick has worked with some big names. While working with QALO, creators of the silicone wedding band, his influencer marketing efforts touched the likes of Dale Earnhardt. Jr. and Lebron James. So what’s the secret to getting influencers of this magnitude to represent a product? For Wittick it starts with just sending them the product.

No contracts, no strings attached, no asks, requests, or return on investment — according to Wittick, you just send them the product. It’s all about creating that genuine connection with an influencer where they don’t feel taken for granted or exploited and fall in love with the brand. Wittick said the reason he was able to work with Earnhardt’ Jr. for a couple years boiled down to the fact that he kept sending him products that Earnhardt liked, nothing else. 

Wittick said: “I can tell you that it would definitely be a higher fee if he didn't already love the product. And he was telling his agent, basically saying, Hey, I want to work with these guys, I love the product. So there is some credibility, especially if you're going to work at that macro level.” 

Plant the seed

Wittick called this approach to influencer marketing seeding, which he made clear is not the same as gifting; the gifting approach tends to involve giving a gift in return for a certain amount of posts or some kind of contractual endorsement. Seeding is as simple as it sounds — sending the right products to the right influencers in hope that they will embrace the brand and post about it. 

But don’t think for a second Wittick isn’t concerned with brands’ bottom line. Kynship’s motto is “We are judged on sales, not likes.” Even though the seeding approach may seem like a long game, Wittick said most of their clients still enjoy fairly strong short-term ROI. He estimated that around 30% of influencers end up posting the product for free without any ask. That means if Kynship sends 100 products to 100 influencers, brands can expect around 30 of them to post about their product. 

Offer a better customer experience

Wittick went into some detail about the right way to go about seeding products to influencers. One key takeaway is this: “The more you can think about your influencer marketing alongside your customer experience the better.” The general rule is to think about the influencer’s experience of receiving the product the same way a brand would think about customer experience. Everything from the initial outreach message, the way the product is packaged and presented, the unboxing experience, following up outreach and emails, plays into winning over that influencer and making them love the brand. Keep in mind, most influencers are busy people who receive different products from influencer marketers all the time. How can you work to ensure yours cuts through the noise and stands out? 

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Listen to the full conversation 

If you’re still reading and interested in learning more about strategic approaches to influencer marketing, download  this episode for your listening convenience. Any brand looking to build opportunity from social capital will benefit from the insights Cody Wittick offers around  influencer marketing for ecommerce, along with a list of helpful tools, resources and strategies you can access today. Enjoy! 

This originally appeared on Bold Commerce and is made available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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